NEW ORLEANS, La. — Kent State’s Dustin Crum, Ball State’s Drew Plitt and Western Michigan’s Kaleb Eleby have been named to the prestigious Manning Award Watch List for the 2021 season.
The Manning Award, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, was created to honor the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting. The winner will again be selected by a voting panel, which includes national media and each of the Mannings, after the bowls.
Plitt, a native of Loveland, Ohio, enters his third year as Ball State’s full-time starter in 2021. The former Wing-T quarterback in high school accounted for 21 touchdowns over the shortened 2020 campaign (17 passing and four rushing). He capped a spectacular season by being named the offensive player of the game for both the MAC Championship and the Arizona Bowl. Plitt, who was also a named to the Manning Award Watch List last season, ranked 18th nationally in passing efficiency (155.6) in 2020 and was 23rd in completion percentage (.656). He also helped the offense rank 27th nationally in yards per game (447.2) and 25th in scoring (34.2). With his 273 passing yards in the MAC Championship, Plitt moved past head coach Mike Neu and into fourth place in BSU history for career passing yards and currently maintains the spot at 6,520. He is also third in school history with 50 career touchdown passes.
Crum returns to the Manning Award watch list for the second-straight season. As a senior, the now graduate student helped engineer the Nation’s top offense in total yards per game (606.5) and points per game (49.8). Crum was a big reason for those gaudy numbers, he averaged 295 yards passing per game last season and added another 60 yards per game rushing. The Grafton, Ohio native completed 73.5 percent of his passes while tossing 12 touchdowns against two interceptions in the Flashes’ four games last season. His 73.5 percent completion percentage tied for second in the FBS, his 192.75 pass efficiency rating was fourth while his 295 yards per game ranked 14th.
Eeleby earned Third Team All-MAC honors last season and ranked third in FBS in passer rating in 2020 (195.08) trailing only Heisman Trophy finalist Mac Jones and BYU’s Zach Wilson. Eeleby piloted a WMU offense which ranked among the top-10 nationally in points per game (41.7), 16th in FBS in total offense (479.7 yards per game) and 10th in FBS in sacks allowed per game (1.17). He threw for multiple TDs in five of six games during the pandemic-shortened season.
Finalists will be selected prior to the postseason and the winner will be announced following the College Football Playoff National Championship.
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